Romualdez: House rushing cha-cha for country’s sake

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — Speaker Martin Romualdez has clarified that members of the House of Representatives are rushing to amend the 1987 Constitution because of the need to improve the country’s economy and not due to political reasons.

House Bill No. 7352, the enabling measure for Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 or the resolution calling for a constitutional convention (con-con), garnered 301 affirmative votes with only seven lawmakers voting against it.

“Yes, the 301 House members who co-authored the twin resolutions are in a rush to amend these restrictive provisions of the Constitution,” Romualdez said in a statement released Wednesday.

Kung nagtatrabaho man kami ng mabilis, ito ay dahil interes ng mamamayan ang nakataya. Hindi pulitika, kundi ekonomiya ng bansa. Hindi eleksyon, kundi misyon na iahon ang mga kababayan natin sa kahirapan. Kailan pa naging kasalanan ang magtrabaho nang mabilis para sa bayan?,” he added.

[Translation: If we do our jobs swiftly, this is because the interest of the public is at stake. Not politics but the country’s economy. Not election but the mission to lift fellow Filipinos out of poverty. When did working quickly for the country ever become a sin?]

Romualdez issued the statement after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri's remark that the lower chamber is rushing to amend the charter despite other economy-related measures passed in the 18th Congress.

Romualdez maintained that amending the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution is “the last piece of the puzzle.”

“While the Philippines made progress in addressing foreign ownership limitations that has constrained investment in many sectors, through legislation such as the Public Services Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the Foreign Investments Act, fundamental investment restrictions enshrined in the Philippine Constitution could not be corrected by simple legislations nor by Executive decisions. Hence a need for constitutional amendments,” he explained.

The opposition has expressed fear that amending the Constitution is dangerous as it could open avenues to strike down provisions protecting national interest.

The Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision, meanwhile, will conduct its hearing on RBH 6 on Monday next week.